Friday, June 1, 2007

Microsoft Surface

Multi-touch computing has been the 'next big thing' for well over 2 years as far as the layperson is considered, and for nearly 20 years, if you talk to a true-blue geek! :)

However, no one has been able to engineer a device which can bring this 'god-send' to you and me... atleast until now! (And here, I must state that while NYU's Jeff Han through his company Perceptive Pixel, has managed to commercialize the technology... it's still well out of my reach... logistically and financially! But, to give credit where it is rightfully due, check out Jeff's mindblowing presentation from last year's TED conference, where he first demonstrated his multi-touch interface!)

Coming back to the core point of this post, on Wednesday Microsoft unveiled "Microsoft Surface" - for a lack of a better word, let me just describe it as 'digital furniture'. It comprises a 30-inch flat screen embedded in a acrylic tabletop. What lies underneath is the true beauty though! Using infrared sensors, the innards of this new computing device can literally 'see' what's put on top of the screen... thereby not only allowing you to do all those cool things that multi-touch sensing promised us - tons of tricks with files, photos, videos etc. - but also allowing objects set on its surface to interact wirelessly and visually with the computer itself.

I am not usually a big Microsoft fan, but this time I must hand it to them. While Apple's iPhone promises to do this on a far smaller scale, Microsoft Surface is the first real, desktop multi-touch computer that you and I could get access to... This is, indeed, the first step towards letting people interact with digital content the same way they interact with other day-to-day objects... using tactile methods! Here's an awesome video from Popular Mechanics profiling this new invention!

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